New Virginia Program Aims to Dispel Fears of Muslim Community

December 18, 2006

Author: Kristen Gelineau


Wire Service: AP

The small beige signs bearing black Arabic script have been appearing all over town on buses and at colleges.

Are they secret messages from terrorists? one panicked bus rider asked. Should the FBI be contacted? What do they mean??

Actual translation: "Paper or plastic?"

The signs are part of a campaign by A More Perfect Union, a program of the Virginia Interfaith Center, and are aimed at dispelling some of the public's fears toward the Muslim community. Organizers hope to eventually expand the program statewide.

"As people see Arabic, they immediately make an association with terrorism," said the Rev. C. Douglas Smith, executive director of the Virginia Interfaith Center. "That's probably because since Nine-Eleven, not only is fear overwhelming us, but that's how we're being trained to think."